Category Archives: Puppy Tales

Keeping it real: my imperfect Saturday night

I like that movement on social media where people try to tear down the illusion that everyone on Facebook is as happy and perfect as they appear in their fabulous photos of birthday gatherings, tropical getaways, and athletic victories.

If you’re a loyal reader (and thanks if you are) you know I’m pretty optimistic by nature and can usually find the sunny view on the cloudiest day. But lately life’s been dishing out some less than perfect moments, so I thought I’d share one with you to balance out all those shiny smiles in the pictures we post.

facebook cartoon

In the last month, we’ve had no less than three plumbing emergencies. The first was a frozen pipe that burst and leaked in a first floor coat closet. About a week later– and completely coincidentally– our very old water heater broke, flooding our basement and requiring replacement. Some bad luck, we thought.

So imagine our shock and frustration when we returned from the glorious weekend celebrating Wilson’s brother’s wedding, to find water pouring out from a light fixture and the ceiling in our kitchen, and the counter and floor soaked from the leak.

Wilson– like many men– tends to feel very out of control when we have house issues too big for him to diagnose, much less fix. There’s a lot of yelling, hand wringing and mumbling…. for days. Then there’s the bellyaching at the plumber’s bill.

I’m sure our misfortune has helped our plumber purchase that fishing boat he’s always wanted.

So last Saturday night when I was coming down the stairs, dressed up to go to dinner and I heard the guttural shouts of “NOOOOOO!!!” I panicked. My stomach tightened and visions of Noah’s flood sloshed through my head.

I ran into the kitchen …but there was not a drop in sight. There was only Wilson holding an empty plate, and screaming obscenities.

You see in the 5 minutes I ran upstairs to reapply lipstick and Wilson stepped into the family room to catch the score of an NCAA basketball game, our beloved puppy, Brady had inhaled all 18 brownies I had baked and lovingly stacked on a plate, covered in plastic wrap to bring to a dinner party.

My goldendoodle ate 18 brownies and survived on

Who, me?

If you don’t already know, chocolate is toxic for dogs. A dog Brady’s size (about 58 lbs) might be able to eat one or two and just feel sick, but 18 were sure to poison him.

I called our heroic vet– who always drops whatever he’s doing on a Saturday night — to help. He advised us to give Brady one ounce of hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up the dastardly dessert.  We, of course, didn’t have any, so Wilson rushed out to the store like a speed demon and was back in 10 minutes. He held Brady’s mouth open while I poured the liquid in.

And then we waited.

The vet — graciously answering all my frantic texts– said it would take 3-4 minutes for him to spew the sweets. But nothing was happening.

There I was, standing in my high heels and leather jacket, perfumed and coiffed and ready for a glass of wine but instead had to roll up my sleeves and get into crisis mode. (It reminded me of the time last year when both my kids got sick the night we were at a cocktail party.)

After 15 anxious but puke-less minutes, we gave Brady a second dose, at the vet’s suggestion.  Then he started pacing around the kitchen and we could hear his belly gurgling. It was a little too reminiscent of the scene in Stand By Me when Lard-Ass gets his Barf-a-rama revenge.

Waiting for it.....

Waiting for it…..

The second dose did the trick, and for the next 90 minutes I waited for Brady to chuck the chocolate, and counted the brownies as I cleaned it up. (Wilson is handy in many situations but he doesn’t do puke.)

Two pieces of good news:  most of the brownies reappeared (many still whole) so we knew he was going to be okay…and the puke smelled like chocolate so the cleanup was not as gross as it could have been.

Our friends at the dinner party — who texted words of sympathy and encouragement throughout the ordeal– told us to come on over, despite our tardiness and bad dog-parenting skills. We drove as fast as we could to flee the scene of the crime. We really needed a drink!

There is no moral of the story– except maybe that Brady can’t be trusted for even a second.  I thought I’d share the messy details to give you a laugh and keep it real.

What disasters have you survived lately? Tell me in the comments.

Puppy Love for reals

She had him at woof.


For those of you looking for an update on our Golden Doodle puppy, Brady, he’s a near-perfect pooch. Sure, he requires work and the kids don’t walk and care for him as much as I hoped they would.

But that furry guy greets me at the door every single time I get home with a leg nuzzle and a wagging tail that says “You’re the greatest!”

It never gets old. His love is truly unconditional, a rarity in my house.

He’s friendly, well-behaved, and doesn’t smell bad. He really doesn’t shed, and seems content to eat the same food every day, and spend hours on my cold, slate kitchen floor without a complaint or hint of bitterness . (Although he does much prefer to lay among the pillows on my couch.)

And now’s he’s got a crush on the girl next door.

golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

The lovely Elsie

She’s an adorable Wheaton Terrier named Elsie who’s just a few months younger than Brady.

Ever since they discovered each other across our chain-link fence, their obsession has grown. When one is out, he/she is searching for the other. Their determination to connect is so intense, they’ve found spots all along the fence to dig holes just deep enough for Elsie (who’s smaller) to escape into our yard.

golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

This week’s escape hole dug by Elsie

While our neighbors are onboard with the relationship, they’re non too pleased about the endless excavation and have tried many different methods to shore up the shallow spots– to no avail.

golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

Attempts to block the lovers from clandestine meetings

Despite the neighbors’ Les Miserables quality barricades, those pups burrow their way to being together.

At least a few times a week, Elsie will dig her way over and I’ll see the two dogs barking and chasing each other around with a glee akin to me at a Bloomingdale’s shoe sale.

They run, they wrestle, they snip at their ears.

golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

They roll around in complete circles like animated cartoon dogs.

golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

When they get tired they stop and drink water, sharing one bowl, even though there are always two.

golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

Sometimes they’ll find a shady spot and lay down next to each other glancing around and I swear they’re having some telepathic conversation about me, the sorry state of our yard, or perhaps the high price of good steak these days. Who knows?

They’re so deeply in love, we’ve started referring to them as Romeo and Juliet. golden doodle loves wheaton terrier puppy on

Get a room!!

We don’t always want them escaping into the other yard, and have to corral them back home, but they just can’t stay away. We arrange regular play dates so they get exercise and their flirting fix. (And speaking of fixed, don’t worry, they’ve both been neutered.)

The only down side to this affair is that they get filthy from rolling around in the hay, so to speak. But it’s a small price to pay to see the determination and joy of love blooming through a metal fence.

My Doodle puppy got shaved, and it’s all my fault

You may remember that Wilson and I are new to dog ownership. Neither of us had a dog growing up and our now 11-month-old puppy, Brady, is paying the price of our rookie mistakes.

Golden Doodle on

Brady wearing a backpack at the bus stop

Things have been going well with Brady. He’s sweet, smart, and very motivated by food so he’s well-trained in most areas–although he still likes to chew on stuff. In the last several months he started to expand, like one of those animal-shaped sponge toys that inflates when you add water.

The last time the vet weighed him, he was 56 pounds, but it seemed like 36 of that was his long, beautiful, white hair. I read the puppy care books, and dutifully brushed him out every few weeks. But I never cut his hair.

Like not even one time in the last 9 months since we got him.

He’d been groomed– brushed and blown out like a movie star– but never cut. I often bathed him myself in the tub or kitchen sink, I picked the disgusting goop out of the hair around his eyes, and cleaned out his ears, but scissors were a stranger to his ever-growing canine shape.

Golden doodle groomed on

Brady with a blowout.

It’s hot and I knew his long locks were making him uncomfortable so I made an appointment at the groomer, hoping they’d give him just a trim.

But when the groomer took a close look, under all the white, fluffy hair were thick patches of matted hair, so close to the skin they couldn’t be brushed through or cut without causing him pain and stress and hours of work. Apparently puppy hair falls out and adult hair grows in, kind of like teeth, but when you don’t cut it, all the hair gets twisted together.

He needed to be completely shaved.

You may remember from a previous blog (read it here), that I felt acute anxiety and discomfort when my three boys (ages 8, 11, and 14) wanted a barber to take a razor to their long, lovely tresses. I had similar feelings yesterday when told Brady would be shaved down to the nub.

I felt sick as I drove away from the doggy salon, imagining cartoonish, oversized scissors chopping off his hair as he pleaded and yelped in helpless fear.

Too dramatic?

Maybe, but that was the guilt talking. If only I had taken him in for a cut sooner, or learned how to brush him properly, maybe we could have saved that gorgeous, downy, white coat.

He went from this…..

Golden Doodle on

To this…..

Golden Doodle shaved on

Yeah, almost unrecognizable. Sinead O’Connor in a dog.

Of course he’s still sweet, good-natured, playful Brady. Of course it will grow back. But will it be the same silky, soft texture? Will he have that Shaggy DA look that made people stop in the street to pet him and smile?

I hope so.

We put an old size 6 t-shirt on him to make him feel more safe and prevent him from scratching and biting at his skin because it’s such a close cut.  I’m getting used to how he looks but I still feel pangs of guilt and regret every time I see him.

I’m sure he’s much cooler now in this heat. He stayed outside longer today than he had in a while. He’s also easier to walk, at half the size he used to be. Everyone thought he was a big, fat dog, but really he was just really, really furry….like a giant muppet.

Brady seems perfectly happy with his new coat. The groomer warned he might be agitated and feel vulnerable, but he’s the same energetic, playful puppy.

I guess I’ve gotta get over my Samson-like attachment to hair. I know that our insides are more important than our outsides. But I hate unmet potential, and what’s better than a good hair day?

Things no one tells you when you get a puppy

I thought it was about time I gave you an update on the progress of our six-month-old Golden Doodle puppy, Brady Blue. He’s a good dog:  smart, affectionate, eager to please, and the right balance of mellow and active.

Puppy in a blanket on

But taking care of a dog is hard work.

I’m not surprised by the time and energy it requires. I knew that going in. But as I’ve said, neither Wilson nor I grew up with a dog so there have been some surprises along our puppy path. In just four months, Brady has provided amusement, adventure, worry, and dare I say aggravation?

I was warned by everyone that puppies pee and poop all over your house, chew on shoes, and play rough. I knew he might cry the first night in the crate, he had to be neutered, and would bark loudly.

Bu there were many things you dog people didn’t tell me. Here are just a few:

Puppies are obsessed with toilet paper.    What’s that all about? Brady’s go-to activity is grabbing onto the end of the roll and running as far as possible. Then he rips it to pieces  until it looks like a Homecoming Float threw up on my floor.

Puppy plays with toilet paper on

Who, me?

Puppy eats toilet paper on

Ok, maybe that time it was me.

Puppies love the snow.  One of my favorite experiences as a dog owner was letting Brady off the leash in our back yard after a fresh snow. Watching him race in circles and bound around with the kids was the purest expression of joy I’ve ever seen.

Puppy and boy play in snow on

Puppy and boy play in snow on

Not sure who is happier here. I love Brady’s snow mustache!

Puppies eat pencils and paper.    I expected him to munch on shoes, belts, and backpacks but I thought that was because he was teething and the leather feels good in his mouth. What’s the allure of eating entire pencils and paper? It can’t taste good!  I’ve decided he was a fellow writer in a past life and he’s been sent to inspire me.

Puppies have to wear a cone when they get neutered.    I had seen dogs with cones before but I always thought it was because they were biters or badly behaved. I felt so sad for my poor pooch when he had to walk around with that cone of shame, banging into walls like he was drunk because he had no peripheral vision.  But the second we took it off after the allotted 5 days, he went to town on his wound and we had to put it back on until he was completely healed.

Puppy wears a cone after neutering on

Training classes are a pain in the ass. It’s important to me that Brady understand the rules of our house and maintain some manners so I knew training was a must.  Although we’ve learned a lot, the commitment to attend weekly classes and keep up with practicing skills is yet another thing added to my busy plate. Plus, every family member needs to be on board and since I’m the only one who’s gone to every class, we are not in sync on our message, and the learning is slow.

Puppies are so very naughty.   Much like children, they know exactly when you have your guard down, and they get into trouble quicker than you can say milkbone. I swear I was on the phone for a second when Brady ran upstairs and pooped in my son’s room, or found a stuffed animal and swallowed all its insides, or discovered an abandoned bag of candy and ate every piece, plus the bag.

Puppy jumps on desk on

Brady jumped on my desk to get a clementine he smelled from down below

Their obsession with food makes them do crazy things.    We found this out the hard way. Up until about a week ago, Brady was totally cool with human food. Wilson and I could sit on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and he’d lay next to us without budging. We ate our meals in peace. He has clearly hit the adolescent stage, testing boundaries because this week he jumped up with his front legs on the kitchen counter, grabbed an entire stick of butter and swallowed it whole!  Ick and oh boy.

Puppies eat their puke.  Soon after Brady scarfed down the butter, he puked all over my couch. And then he ate it as my son looked on in horror. When I say Brady doesn’t like to miss a meal, I mean it.

You have to cook for puppies.  Brady puked on and off for the next two days so the vet said I had to give him Pepcid AC, stop his dog food and make him chicken and rice for every meal. That’s right, now I’m cooking two dinners every night.

Puppies carve a spot in your heart you didn’t realize you had.  I don’t mind making two dinners every night because I want Brady to feel better. I was as upset about his illness as I would be about my kids’– maybe even more because he can’t tell me what hurts.

He cuddles on the couch with Wilson and me every night while we watch TV.  He meets each one of us at the door with his jingling collar, wagging tail, and kisses. Unlike a sibling or spouse who can get on your nerves, he’s the family member adored by all, who brings us together to care for him.

I can no longer imagine life without that dumb dog. He brings out the best in all of us. Despite all the surprises, I have no regrets, only gratitude.

Share some of your puppy tales in the comments.

Puppy 911!

I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

Things have been going well with our new Golden Doodle puppy, Brady. He’s 12 weeks old (we’ve had him for 4 weeks) and growing quickly.

cute puppy eats poison on

He’s super smart and eager to please, and the indoor accidents are down to 1 or 2 a day, and that’s only if we’re not paying attention. He’s the perfect combination of playful and cuddly and has responded so well to puppy training I’m considering enrolling my 3 boys in a PetSmart class. Do they have obedience lessons for children?

But one thing he likes to do is chew. On anything. And everything.

It’s normal puppy behavior. We have commands that make him stop, and there are a dozen plush toys, knotted ropes, and rubber bones littering the floors of our living space to occupy his sharp little teeth. But sometimes, life gets in the way and we can’t watch him every minute.

That’s what happened one night this week when Brady got into some trouble. My 7-year-old, Eli was having a bad asthma attack so I propped him up on the couch with a mask on his face to breath in his Albuterol treatment through a nebulizer. (It looks and sounds much worse than it is.)

kid using nebulizer on

After the treatment, I put Eli to bed and came downstairs to watch TV. At some point in the evening– we don’t know when or how– Brady got a hold of a vial of Eli’s Albuterol medicine.

I heard him chewing on something, but it sounded like his rawhide bone. After a few minutes, I opened his mouth and realized it was an empty, chewed-up plastic vial. We could tell that it had been sealed, so he must have chewed it open and the liquid dripped out.

I tried to remain calm as it hit me that our unwitting puppy had just ingested poison. We couldn’t find any traces of the liquid so we had to assume he licked up whatever leaked out.

puppy eats medicine on

Remember my recent blog about how my 10-year-old son, Aden, hurt his shoulder and I neglected to seek medical attention for 3 days because I didn’t think he was really injured? And then it turned out to be a fractured collarbone, torn ligaments and a medium sprain? (Oops.)

Well apparently, with my kids, I’m willing to risk bodily harm, but I’m not taking any chances with Brady. (In fairness, if any of my toddler boys had ingested poison he too would be raced to the emergency room.)

As Wilson took to the internet to seek advice, I frantically called animal and human poison control, the vet, and the local 24-hour animal hospital. All concluded that Albuterol was BAD to ingest– especially for a 16-pound puppy– and required an immediate vet examination. I gave Wilson no option but to jump in the car with Brady at 11:45pm and head to the nearest animal hospital 30 minutes away.

Clueless little Brady made friends with everyone in the place with his tail-wagging and face-licking charm, and showed no symptoms of any distress. We were told the poison (if he ingested it) could cause heart problems, seizures, and/or disorientation. Although he showed no discomfort throughout the entire process, we were not willing to risk not treating him, especially since it was so late at night.

The vet hospital hooked him up to an IV with special fluids, fed him charcoal pills to soak up the toxins, and monitored him overnight. He came home the next morning exactly the same adorable puppy we know and love.

Except he did have a section of his paw shaved and taped where the IV was, which freaked the kids out a bit. But they slept through the whole trauma so Wilson and I bore the stress and guilt alone that night.

puppy eats medicine on

Brady biting at his taped paw after the vet removed his IV.

Good news? Brady is completely fine and now we know what to do in case of emergency and how careful we must be about watching him.

Bad news? That little visit cost $800!

Would love some advice on pet insurance from you dog lovers out there. Looks like we’re going to need it.

First days of puppyhood: week 1 with Brady

Brady Blue has finally arrived… and so far, he’s lived up to the hype.

After years of our children prodding, pleading and praying, our 8 week old Golden Doodle puppy showed up last weekend, making dreams come true. The breeder drove him and 4 of his siblings from Michigan to their new homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Wilson and I were away, so some generous friends offered to take him for the first night. (Shout out to the Backers– hope he left only memories and not puddles and teeth marks!)

As I’ve mentioned before, neither Wilson nor I had a dog growing up, so this was a big step and we anticipated a huge adjustment.

Before his arrival, I shook down dozens of friends for insider tips on care and training. I eagerly read the terrific book “Good Owners, Great Dogs,” and spent over an hour perusing the aisles at PetSmart.

1st trip (of many) to Petsmart for new puppy on

1st trip (of many) to load up at Petsmart

The groundwork reminded me of being pregnant the first time, under the illusion that the best gear and thorough research would prepare me for anything.

But new living things– both furry and bald– are unpredictable. You’re never quite ready. But they’re so sweet, innocent, and helpless, your nurturing instincts kick in and you quickly forget what life was like without them.

We all fell in love right away.

10-year-old Aden– who pushed the hardest for the pup– has been extremely attentive and earnest in helping me train him.

New Golden Doodle puppy on

A boy and his dog

Like an infant, the first few days were bliss. He cuddled and slept and smelled good. Every little noise and expression was adorable. By day 3, his personality came out and he became more brave, adventurous, and defiant. Now he’s going up stairs, teething on shoes and doesn’t need to be sitting on my feet all day (although it slowed me down, I loved that ephemeral phase.)

He doesn’t like the crate much. He resists going in and if you can get him in, he cries as soon as you close the door. It hurts to hear him cry so I don’t leave him in there much during the day when I’m home, but he sleeps in the crate near our bed at night.  Wilson and I have been strong badass parents. We don’t give in and let him out, and the crying has dissipated each night.

Last night– his 5th away from home– he only cried for 5 minutes and slept a glorious stretch from 11:30p to 6:20am. We’re on a puppy roll.

It took a few days to find a routine, but he sleeps a lot during the day so I’ve been able to get some work done when he naps and try to take him out every 2-3 hours and after every meal. He has met many kids and adults and is friendly and mellow.

1st days with new puppy on

Brady exhausted after his morning romp

He can be affectionate, especially in the morning. I never thought I would enjoy a dog licking my face. Whenever I saw other people receive a tongue lashing I thought it was gross, but a peck from my pooch is now sweet. Plus, I know exactly where that tongue has been. He hasn’t had all his shots yet so he can only go in our backyard and the house.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work. I get so frustrated when he has an accident in the house, mostly because it means I’ve fallen down on the job, and missed an opportunity for a teaching moment.  But there’s always another pee coming my way.

He has little bursts of activity where he goes nuts with a toy or a blanket, rolling over and growling while wagging his cute little white tail. But after about 10 minutes he’s spent and passes out.

New Golden Doodle puppy on

There are certainly similarities between taking care of a puppy and a newborn but puppies are much easier. When I need to leave or get something done, I put him in a crate. He eats and drinks on his own. And he’s as cute and lovable as a newborn (let’s face it, some babies look like little, wrinkled old men, but there’s no such thing as an ugly puppy!)

And I didn’t have to carry him for 9 months or forego sushi and wine.

Look at this face.

1st days with new puppy on

I’m sold.

What’s in a name? Puppy watch 2013 is on

You people love your dogs, don’t you?

I toil away on my blog posts and then eagerly put them on Facebook and Twitter in hopes they will strike a chord with readers and maybe start a conversation. On a good day I might get 2 to 5 comments on the blog and/or Facebook.

We were having an ongoing family argument over what to name our new puppy last week, so I threw up a question on Facebook soliciting male dog names.  Do you know I got 43 responses… and they’re still coming in?!

You’re all crazy for canines!

Never having been a dog person, I didn’t realize how much people love to prattle about their pooches. Even a casual mention about entering puppyhood and I instantly have 3 iPhones in my face featuring scores of photos of dogs in various poses.

(Bow) Wow!

People who never say a word to me at work rushed to my desk this week to see a picture of my puppy online. I was at a party this weekend and my friend’s college roommate came running over breathlessly asking me if we’d come up with a name yet after reading my query on Facebook.

Humans really dig their dogs.

We were on the fence about female or male and after asking around I discovered there are good reasons to get both so we went with personality over gender.

Golden doodle puppy on

2 weeks old

The breeder put up photos and a brief description of each dog’s characteristics and families got to choose which dog they wanted, in order of deposits paid. We fell for one, and had two backups, but all 3 of our choices were gone right away.

After some jockeying and emergency family meetings, we decided on the boy puppy with the white collar. Isn’t he cute?

Our breeder says he’s lighthearted, loves to play, curious, smart, and  happy-go-lucky. He’ll fit right in.

As for a name? Those Facebook responses suggested everything from the mundane (Brad, Norman, Steve)…to the traditional (Fido, Rufus, Buster, Spike) … to the cutesy (Smiley, Honey, Sassy) …to the personalized (GoBlue, Shea, Cougar — people know my boys like sports.)

One lady even suggested “Payphone.”

We went through a site full of names and finally agreed on Brady.

The boys liked it because it’s after Tom Brady, who played for Michigan, and Brady Hoke, the Michigan football coach. I liked it because it’s after the “Brady Bunch,” one of my all-time favorite shows.  (See my about page here for the story on how all my kids are named after pop culture characters.)

Golden doodle puppy on carpool

Brady at 4 weeks

So we have chosen and named our puppy.

Stay tuned for his arrival. Many more adventures to come.

Puppy love!

Big news! (drumroll please)….. our puppy arrives September 7th!

For those of you following along, we’ve been debating whether to get a dog for a couple of years and finally decided to make it happen. It might have been the day I looked out the window and found 10-year-old Aden playing in the back yard with a cicada. (No joke!)

The poor kid really needs a pooch.

I started to do some research but I believe fate is what brought this puppy to us. I ran into a friend at a concert two weeks ago.  She has a beautiful 16-month old Golden Doodle named Dempsey who we met as a puppy who was very sweet and good with kids and other dogs.  She told me her breeder had just had a litter that week and had more puppies than expected.



Aden and I looked up the breeder on the web and liked the way they talked about the dogs– professional and affectionate, but not over the top. The site answered all my questions and had adorable pictures of their dogs and puppies.

The father of the puppies is an English Cream Golden Retriever and the mother is a Moyen Poodle named Zoey– the same name as our cousins’ dog whom we love. This English Cream breed of Golden Doodles have very light-colored, wavy hair that hopefully won’t shed too much, which is good for 7-year-old Eli’s asthma and allergies.

Every time I stopped someone on the street to ask what breed their cute dog was, 8 times out of 10 it was a Golden Doodle. Everything I read confirmed that they are social, great with kids, have a good disposition, and smart, so easy to train.  It seemed like a good fit for us.

We were sold.

Next we had to decide whether we wanted a male or female. I was leaning towards female to even out the gender in our family a bit. I read that females were more mellow in the puppy phase and more independent as adult dogs. Males can be more difficult to calm but loyal and affectionate.

We chose female because there were less girls in the litter, but I’m still on the fence. Our breeder says personality is much more important than gender so we’re checking the website regularly, where she posts information on each puppy. She gives them each different colored collars and takes notes on their behavior to get a sense of their personalities.

These are the puppies at about three weeks old. Still haven’t all opened their eyes yet!

new puppies!

I’ve bought a bunch of books and have been quizzing friends so I’m as prepared as possible for this big change in our lives. When I told a friend who just got a puppy a month ago that we put a deposit down and are expecting ours shortly she said “you may regret it on a  minute to minute level, but never a day by day level.”

I told her there will be no regrets, only puppy love from here on out.  How can you not love something that cute? Even if he is chewing my favorite shoes  and peeing on my rug. He/she will be a part of our family and you don’t mess with family.

I’m eager to hear your thoughts on boy or girl– as we may still have a choice– and also possible names. I welcome all advice as long as it’s positive. There’s no turning back now.

Doggone it, it’s time

My son, Aden’s birthday is this week. He’s turning 10 and all he wants is a dog.

It’s time.

I’ve been procrastinating, worrying, and quizzing friends and family for months, if not years. We’ve dog-sat many weekends and survived. I can’t put it off any longer. Aden needs a dog… like I need to write…like Wilson needs sports…like Eli (7) needs to talk, like Jacob (13) needs to text.

A dog will center him, soothe him, and make him so happy. I’ve seen it happen with other animals. You should see the way he stays up late reading books about lizards, plays with his friends’ hamsters,  and sticks his hand in a muddy swamp to catch crawfish.

Neither Wilson nor I grew up with any animals so this is new territory and I’m nervous. The dog will require time, energy, and expense. I’m not kidding myself– I realize most of the responsibility will fall on me.

But the kid needs a dog.

Aden with Uncle Jon's dog, Ranger

Aden with Uncle Jon’s dog, Ranger

It’s the right time because I’m home a lot, the weather is nice, and we’re around for the next several months for baseball so we can’t make weekend plans. I’m hoping to get a furry friend before August.

So I’m using this post to crowdsource. Aden wants a puppy and Eli has allergies so we’ll start with those requirements. I’m going to research what breed to get, the best training books, recommendations for obedience school, and a good vet.

97% of the dog owners I’ve spoken to adore their pooches and say it’s the best addition to their family and worth all the work and inconvenience.  I’m moving forward with that encouragement in mind and getting excited. And scared. But mostly excited.

Seeing Aden’s face when that dog arrives is also a big motivator. Fulfilling his dream will be fun for all of us.

I couldn’t get my act together to get a puppy here this week but I bought him this guide to dog care to open on his birthday so he knows the process is underway.  But I’m counting on you people to help me with info and advice.  Emails would be ideal but you can also comment on the blog or on Facebook and I’ll start gathering and educating myself.

Thanks, in advance for your guidance and patience. I’m going to need it.

My kids are hounding me for a dog

Aden's a dog's best friend

Aden’s a dog’s best friend

Our family was dog-sitting this week for Wilson’s brother’s dog, an adorable mutt named Ranger.  (When he was a puppy, he had black spots around his eyes that looked like the Lone Ranger’s mask.) We’ve taken care of Ranger before, but each time,  the pressure intensifies to get a dog of our own.

I like dogs and know that it would enrich my kids’ lives if they had a pooch, but I didn’t grow up with one. My mother dislikes and fears most animals and my father chose not to fight that battle. Wilson didn’t grow up with animals either so we’re clueless and intimidated by the idea of adding a dog to our family.

My middle son, 9-year-old Aden, is my most challenging child. He acts tough, but can be sensitive and moody.  But he loves animals. Every book he has taken out of the library since kindergarten has been about animals.  When we visit friends, he gravitates towards dogs more than other kids. He instinctively knows how to talk to them, pet them, love them.

I’ve resisted getting a dog because my youngest, 7-year-old Eli, was still having accidents until about a year ago. After 12 consistent years of changing diapers and throwing away stained Batman undies,  I wanted at least one poop-free year.

Eli giving Ranger some love

Eli giving Ranger some love

Many of our friends have gotten dogs in the last few years. I’ve seen their adorable, floppy puppies attracting the attention of excited kids and swooning adults and felt the pang of desire.

Our Fido-loving friends can’t imagine their lives without them and I’ve seen them treat their dogs with the same concern and adoration (sometimes more) that they have for their kids. It’s sweet.

It also scares the crap out of me.

I think about the long walks in the freezing cold, the chewed up furniture and toys, and the neediness of a puppy in its first six months.

I have three energetic boys who don’t listen to a word I say and a husband to whom I don’t pay nearly enough attention. I work part-time in the city and part-time at home and I have several volunteer and house obligations.  Do I really want yet another living creature depending on me?

The kids say they’ll help with the responsibilities and I believe they want to. But the reality is I’ll be the main caretaker of the dog. The only way I would get a dog would be if we had a trainer or obedience classes because we don’t know the first thing about food, schedules, or behavior. But that’s more time and energy.

Aden and Eli walked Ranger many times this week and played with him a lot. But when the novelty wears off, will I be nagging them to take the dog out like I do to clean their rooms?

I loved the infancy and baby stage of parenthood so taking care of a puppy and being needed in that way is appealing to me. But I know there will be plenty of times I won’t feel like standing on the sidewalk for the thousandth time in 20- degree weather waiting for it to take a leak…or coming home early from a party because it’s been alone in the house too long…or worrying about it when it’s sick.

Ranger is over a year old but still pooped in our front hall at least 6 times this week and peed inside twice. I’m sure part of it is different surroundings and missing his own family, but sometimes dogs just poop on the rug.

I’m not so psyched about that.

While I would love to rescue a dog, Eli has allergies so we need a non shedding pup. With the wide range of breeds out there, I’ll need to do ample research to  choose the right dog for our family.

It sounds like I’m hesitating as I voice my anxiety, but I know it’s not a matter of if, but when for us. When I see Aden cuddling on the couch with Ranger I know he needs a dog. He’s actually better behaved and more relaxed with a dog around.

He’s one of those kids who feels things deeply but can’t communicate his needs. Being around animals brings out his best self and perhaps makes him feel an unconditional love and understanding he may not feel from humans, even the ones who love him most.

How can I deny him something that would be such a positive influence?

I’m sure all you dog lovers will say just do it! Anyone want to share stories about the challenges? What breeds would you recommend? Please educate and encourage me in the comments.